The summer has started to fall into a rhythm. FoodWorks’ start date was June 4th and the end date is August 4th– it’s crazy to think that we’re half-way done! Two of the program’s three field trips were in the first few weeks of meeting. Most recently (this past weekend) we headed over to the Intervale Center in Burlington for a tour and exploration of the farmer resource. Basically, the Intervale functions as a nutrient rich area where new farmers can apply for farmland. If accepted, they are given a plot of land and access to resources, like a functional CSA, a mentor farm and washing station, to help them develop and grow. Eventually, the goal is for them to “graduate” and find land elsewhere to run an independent farm. If they are not accepted, the Intervale works to find them an alternate plan, like available farmland somewhere in Vermont.
We spent all morning exploring the area, only slightly inhibited by the slight flooding due to the recent heavy precipitation and relatively high water table. I was really taken aback by the process and the system. I had never seen anything like it, and I was impressed. We had a conversation with our tour guide about how great the idea behind the Intervale is– and how unfortunately, it has not really been duplicated. While this is partly due to circumstance, as the Intervale is lucky enough to operate on a rich-soil, large area, it got me thinking on similar ideas.
Concepts that bring together parts of a food system, like allowing upcoming farmers to take part in an already developed CSA, allows a food system to continue to develop and strengthen. Developing other resources that do the same thing, like a food hub or community resource center, is a valuable endeavor.